Fire and Slush
New Year's Eve with Raisin Hill and Reid Genauer
by Brita Brundage -FAIRFIELD WEEKLY
January 9, 2003
Sugar Free

I never go to extremes on New Year's. It's a holiday that passes so quickly, with too much drinking and too much spending, that I merely try to put myself somewhere I don't have to drive and hope for the best. This year, I found myself attending the Terrapin party at the Full Moon "alternative" Resort in some really remote area of the Catskills.

For those who don't know, Terrapin is the famed Danbury group that started off selling blank tapes for Grateful Dead show bootleggers and ended up putting on major festivals like Gathering of the Vibes (although with festivals like Bonnaroo stealing the spotlight, perhaps "major" is an overstatement).

The Full Moon has a small ski lodge-like bar and club space up on a hill with a built-in stage in the back room and lots of exposed beams. Outside, they keep a fire pit burning, which, throughout the night, was ringed with kids smoking and stomping through the snow. It didn't help our local band, Raisinhill, who opened the night, that many of the partiers were waiting out the opening set watching the flames crackling up from the pit instead of those building onstage, but I made sure to stand front and center where the sounds were impressive.

This three-piece instrumental group has a recently released CD that shows off their ability to alternate between tight hooks and orchestrated free-for-alls. They're able to pare down to a simple melody before losing the audience in the frenzy. Brian Anderson on upright bass, John Kasiewicz on guitar and Jay Bond on drums all have a deliberate style; when they solo, it's crisp, hard and ends with a perfectly-timed pause. The only thing lacking about their set, which ended with the best version of "Maker's March" I've ever heard from the band , was the attention they received from the impatient audience.

The crowd seemed too geared up about the headliners, Reid Genauer and the Assembly of Dust, to make much of a listening effort. Screw them. According to Kasiewicz, Raisinhill had a fantastic set opening for Deep Banana Blackout the night before at Toad's Place with youngsters screaming and throwing themselves against the chain-link partition.

Those who had come for Genauer (which included most of the audience) and A.O.D. (not to be confused with Bruce Wingate's early '90s punk band A.O.D.) were glued to the stage like the faithful gone to Mecca. I didn't know any of the music myself but was familiar enough with the genre. Genauer used to sing for Strangefolk, and he was more beloved than I'd realized.

He left the Burlington, Vt., band late last year to start this new project, plucking a few choice players from similar groups--John Leccese on bass (who used to be in Percy Hill), Adam Herrick on drums (Moon Boot Lover), Nate Wilson on keyboards (Percy Hill) and Adam Terrell on lead guitar. The audience sang along appreciatively, swaying together, raising their fists on the choruses, so engrossed in the love from onstage that they didn't even hit back the balloons I knocked toward them after the New Year's countdown closed.

At moments, the band captured a feeling of abandon, but often one song merged into the next with little distinction. Genauer and his group are a very practiced version of what has become a rather stale style. The highlight onstage was Wilson, who reminded me why I used to go to Percy Hill shows. His playing was charged and unafraid, his solos careening around tight corners.

Genauer and A.O.D. certainly have found their niche, and a wildly approving audience, though I wonder about all these breakups and restarts. Aaron Katz, lead singer from Percy Hill, now has his own band, Strangefolk is still touring without Genauer...can anyone keep track of who's who anymore? More importantly, does anyone care?

Brita Brundage can be reached at
Brita Brundage